Despite its advanced age of 115 years, the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art didn’t seriously get into the teaching business until about twenty years ago, when traditional art schools realized they could not survive without granting an academic degree (so young BFAs could get a salaried job somewhere). That put a lot of art teachers, as well as students, out on the street. Now this aging mansion on the Gold Coast offers a nice warm place for them to get together, and the annual faculty show, like a speed-dating party, provides an opportunity for un-institutionalized teachers and students to find each other. No degree, no curriculum, just classes teaching whatever style that enough students want to learn. What’s exceptional about this year’s show is the inclusion of a few bi-coastal artists who come to Chicago to teach for a week or so. Especially noteworthy is the appearance of three paintings by David Leffel from New York, who is at the forefront of the revival of Baroque painting. Can Leffel paint like Rembrandt, or at least like a very eccentric follower? Also noteworthy in this exhibit are the traditional Chinese brush paintings by Andy Chan, as well as a full-size portrait of him by Zhiwei Tu, whose hometown (Shaoguan, which is larger than Chicago) gave him his own museum. Indeed, more than a third of the artists shown in this exhibit were born in China, Korea, or the Philippines. Consider this a showcase for the wide world of styles that are more visually enjoyable than intellectually challenging, which is why they don’t especially fit into modern academia, but still are collected by people who enjoy looking at paintings. (Chris Miller)
Through February 24 at Palette and Chisel, 1012 N. Dearborn.